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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Update: Benke cleared of charges

A dispute resolution panel of the Lutheran Church­Missouri Synod cleared David Benke of charges for syncretism and false doctrine. The Atlantic District president was cited for praying with non-Christian religious leaders at A Prayer for America, a post-Sept. 11 event at Yankee Stadium in New York City (August 2002, page 46).

Three LCMS congregations and 18 pastors filed charges against Benke for offering a prayer at the interfaith event, even though he had received approval from LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick.

The panel lifted Benke's suspension, restoring him to good standing. It said his "participation [in the event] was neither a rejection of nor a challenge to the Synod's fellowship position and practice, but a discretionary response to a quite extraordinary set of circumstances in a quite unordinary event."

LCMS Second Vice President Wallace Schulz, who suspended Benke, disagreed with the panel's ruling. "If the panel's decision is permitted to stand unchallenged, its impact will reach far beyond the Benke case, fundamentally changing our Synod and leading it to resolve spiritual issues on the basis of men's opinions rather than God's word."

Schulz chose not to appeal the April 10 ruling.


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